Plays like a girl

To become a respected female musician, do you have to become one of the boys?

Topics: Gender Roles, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Annie Clark — the singer-songwriter who performs as St. Vincent — is tired of being told that she plays well for a girl. In a recent interview, she railed against the idea that her gender should have anything to do with what she plays or why she plays it.

“I wasn’t reactionary, like, ‘I’m gonna play guitar to spite you. Girl Power!’ I just love playing guitar,” Clark says. “Some people expect I wouldn’t be able to play guitar very well… but that’s other people’s deal.”

Clark sneered at the way Lady Gaga is “rewarded” for writing her own material, dismissed Lilith Fair as “marginalizing,” overly earnest acoustic strumming, and complained about being compared with other female musicians, since “musically, I have more things in common” with male peers.

I can’t argue with Clark on Lilith Fair (which returns in 2010: get your dolphin ankle tattoo now!) But, on the Girl Power tip, it’s not unfair to note that Clark may have felt comfortable picking up the guitar because she’s young enough to have benefited from decades of work by women who fought to be accepted as musicians, and for whom plugging in a guitar was a defiant, often explicitly feminist statement.

Still, it’s easy to sympathize with her frustration. Clark may be uncomfortable with comparing herself to women because women are so often compared to each other, and not to men. She’s been likened to Kate Bush, just like a zillion other female artists with sweeping arrangements and pretty melodies. Bjork comes up for anyone who seems vaguely quirky. And a woman can’t touch an acoustic guitar within 100 yards of a music journalist without being compared to Joni Mitchell.



Joni Mitchell, on the other hand, has been compared to a man — one man, for decades. He is Bob Dylan, and she is sick of it. “No one would say that Dylan is the ‘male Joni Mitchell,’” she has said. She’s right. Men are allowed to be “great” with no qualifiers; women are often only “great” in relation to other female artists.

Being lumped in with women, or being seen as a “female musician” rather than a rock star, is frustrating. Still, so thoroughly distancing oneself from other women is troubling. In the effort to avoid becoming just another girl, there must be a better way to go than becoming one of the boys.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>